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Laos, Australia renew Cooperation on Human Rights

Date: 24 July 2017; Type: Legal News; Source: Vientiane Times

Laos and Australia have agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation on human rights via a new four-year programme.

The second phase of Australia's Human Rights Technical Cooperation Programme (HRTCP) will be implemented by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and Treaties and Law Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos.

This comes under the new 5.2 billion kip (AUD 815,000) programme which will run until March 2021 with Australia will providing practical support to the Lao government to meet its international human rights commitments.

This second phase builds on Australia's support since 2013 for the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and aims to deepen understanding across Laos of the international human rights obligations and the importance of these for the country's inclusive socio-economic development.

Laos has ratified seven of the nine core conventions and is focusing on the integration of these commitments into domestic law and government processes and reporting the progress made to the United Nations.

The Lao government intends to implement at least 60 percent of the 116 recommendations it accepted in the 2015 Universal Periodic Review before the next review in January 2020.

Laos and Australia have enjoyed a robust policy-level engagement on human rights since 2006 via bi-annual Human Rights Dialogues, with the most recent 5th Dialogue held in Vientiane on 18 July.

Speaking at the launch, last week, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office and the Chair of the National Steering Committee on Human Rights, Mr Bounkert Sangsomsak welcomed the renewal of cooperation between the two nations and organisations.

"Our continuing cooperation with Australia demonstrates the Lao government's commitment to international human rights mechanisms. We have much to gain from technical exchanges between our two countries."

Adressing the launch, Australian Ambassador to Laos, Mr John Williams said the Australian Human Rights Commission would continue to be a quality partner for Laos in strengthening the adherence to conventions and treaties to which it is a signatory.

"The Commission has extensive experience on human rights implementation and reporting obligations, and has provided similar support to Vietnam and China in the past," Mr Williams said.

"We hope Laos will be able to draw fully on the commission's technical expertise to help deliver on their priority human rights commitments."

Australia's new human rights technical cooperation program will also aim to build the capacity of the school of Law and Political Science at the National University of Laos, supporting the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

It will help Laos strengthen adherence to UN conventions while providing practical support to the Lao government to meet its international human rights commitments.

This second phase builds on Australia's support since 2013 for the Treaties and Legal Affairs Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and aims to deepen understanding across Laos of various international human rights obligations and the importance of these for the country's inclusive socio-economic development.

Laos has ratified seven of the nine core conventions and is focusing on the integration of these commitments into domestic law and government processes and reporting the progress made to the United Nations.

The Lao government intends to implement at least 60 percent of the 116 recommendations it accepted in the 2015 Universal periodic review before the next review in January 2020.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is a statutory body funded by, but operating independently of, the Australian Government with responsibility for investigating alleged infringements under anti-discrimination legislation in relation to the nation's agencies on the grounds of race or nationality, colour or ethnic origin, racial vilification, age, sex or gender, sexual harassment, marital or relationship status, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, care status, actual or potential pregnancy, breastfeeding, trade union activity, criminal record, medical record, impairment or physical disability.

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